The Chicago Bears could have the rare opportunity to add a quality backup quarterback while also spiting their biggest NFC North rival during 2021 free agency.
As Sports Illustrated’s Gene Chamberlain pointed out, the Bears could be poised to target Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Tim Boyle this offseason with the 26-year-old due to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Boyle spent the past two seasons as Aaron Rodgers’ backup and beat out 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love for the role during last year’s training camp.
Meanwhile, the Bears have not solidified their quarterback plans next season with Nick Foles currently the only passer they have under contract for 2021. There are still a number of moves they could make to secure a new starter — including re-signing Mitchell Trubisky — but Boyle could be an interesting option if they proceed with Foles and a young draft pick for 2021.
Here’s why Chamberlain believes Boyle might be a fit “depending on what the Bears do at quarterback” this spring:
They could use a backup who already has been in the NFL if they plan to go forward with Nick Foles as starter this year, and also draft someone. They’ve had Tyler Bray in a third-quarterback role. Being behind Foles and Mitchell Trubisky isn’t quite the same as being the backup to Aaron Rodgers, especially one who has defied the odds the way Boyle has.
Although Boyle hasn’t really played in games, he’s good enough that he beat out first-round pick Jordan Love for the backup spot last year and previously had beaten out DeShone Kizer to be backup.
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Boyle Promising, but Lacks Experience
Boyle is heading into free agency for the first time in his career after playing out the end of his three-year, league-minimum contract with the Packers, but the national conversations have mostly excluded despite backing up one of the league’s best passers. Part of that could be his restricted free agency; though, most of it likely stems from his lack of actual playing time.
While Boyle has aced his fair share of tests over his years in Green Bay — enduring as a UDFA quarterback in 2018; beating out Kizer for the backup spot in 2019; holding onto his backup role against a first-round challenger in Love — the majority of his regular-season reps have come as a human victory cigar. He has attempted just four passes (with three completions) in his career, all of which came in the Packers’ midseason blowout loss to San Francisco in 2019. He also only played on 43 offensive snaps.
Really, the biggest show of potential for Boyle came in the 2019 preseason. He completed 34 of his 57 passes for 356 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions, impressing the Packers’ new coaching staff enough to edge out Kizer for a spot on the initial 53-man roster. He also seemed to outperform Love during their first training camp together in 2020.
The Packers will have the option to place a low restricted tender on Boyle that — per Over the Cap projections — should cost a little more than $2.1 million, giving them the opportunity to then match whatever contract offers he might receive from other teams. Green Bay’s cap problems, however, are even worse than Chicago’s in 2021 and could motivate them to carry just two quarterbacks (Rodgers and Love) into next year.
The Bears would have to sign Boyle to an offer sheet but might not have trouble pushing him out of the Packers’ price range, assuming they even want to retain him.
Other RFA Packers for Bears to Target?
Boyle was not alone on Chamberlain’s list of Packers restricted free agents that the Bears to consider targetting this offseason. He also proposed the Bears trying to sign Green Bay’s breakout tight end, Robert Tonyan, to an offer sheet for “a long-term deal” along with Chicago taking a look at adding defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster.
While Tonyan is nothing more than a pipe dream, the Lancaster suggestion has some merit. He has been primarily a rotational place in his three seasons with the Packers, tallying 79 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and each forced fumble and fumble recovery over 43 career games. The Bears could potentially use Lancaster in the same type of role with Roy Robertson-Harris expected to depart in free agency this spring.
The Bears may also have the lowdown on Lancaster given his former Packers defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, is now on Matt Nagy’s coaching staff in Chicago.